You probably recognize the nerd stars, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, of the disappointing sci-fi comedy Paul from their pairing in cult genre comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz so it's a little curious as to how flat Paul turns out despite the how it should have been with its pedigree. The story of a pair of British geeks who start off at the San Diego Comic Con and travel the Southwest in an RV and then encounter an honest-to-goodness alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) could've been a hoot, but ends up a slack - not slacker - yarn laden with cliches.
I think the problem begins with the script by Frost and Pegg. Pegg co-wrote Shaun and Fuzz with those films' director, Edgar Wright, but the swap of Wright for Frost and then having the pages directed by Adventureland and Superbad shot-caller Greg Mottola just never catches fire. Too many of the gags are really obvious Star Wars references and there's more interest in bashing Christians as ignorant clowns than really tweaking the foibles of the Nerd Nation who can take a punch and would revel in some humor that's smarter than a honky-tonk band playing the "Cantina Theme."
The CGI effects integrating the alien into the scenes are seamless and the performances are uniformly OK, especially Kristen Wiig as an aforementioned Bible victim who cuts loose; she manages what was written as a really nasty stereotype and manages to make it somewhat sympathetic. It takes a bit to get used to Rogen's basso voice coming out of the skinny alien body, but you'll eventually roll with it.
Proving far less than the sum of its parts, Paul isn't a so much a bad movie as movie that's not very good.
Score: 4/10. Catch it on cable.
Trailer is here; they didn't allow embedding.